A Dojo of the Mind

2016 has been a difficult year to process both politically and spiritually. A large segment of humanity still chooses to process the events of life in the same way as 3000 or 4000 years ago. Anger and fear rule the day on both sides of the political spectrum. I read comments from people claiming their right to their anger and its expression, because without anger their lives would lose focus and meaning. Many people depend on their anger to get up in the morning and make it through the day and fear that without it they would have no identity and cease to exist. Depending on anger though is like depending on meth for the energy to get through one more day. It’s a devil’s bargain. Anger is always seeking to justify its existence and leads you to believe that you will cease to exist if it ceases to exist. Anger and fear become the greatest tyrants in a person’s life.

When I was studying for a black belt in Aikido I used to have to practice against three or four attackers in an exercise called randori. The first times I did this I was overcome by fear and was easily overwhelmed by my attackers. I not only was frustrated and angry with myself for my failure, but I was also angry with my attackers for making me fail. I don’t know how the change happened. Maybe it was diligently practicing in the face of anger and failure, or maybe it was grace and serendipity. I was kneeling on the floor in seiza in front of my kneeling attackers (uke). We bowed and as I rose I had the sense of my ki, my spirit, expanding to fill the room. The uke were merely actors in my room. As they attacked I moved to the correct spot and threw the first uke, then moved to the second, threw him, and on and on. It was all done without fear or anger. I was fully alive and mindful at every step, filling the room. I have experienced the sense of inflation and jangly energy that anger can give me, but that feeling is nothing compared to the mindful expansion of spirit. I didn’t cease to exist, but rather discovered a profound sense of myself free of fear and anger. Instead I felt joyful clarity as I moved from opening to opening doing what needed to be done. It became an experience I could repeat at will for all future randori. How many small openings in life do we miss because our anger won’t let us or because we have opinions to justify?

This mindful expansion of spirit that I’ve described is something that I’d hope anyone reading this piece would be able to experience someday and then integrate into their being. In this state of mind many things about life become apparent. The point of my writing is to try to somehow help you do this. The writing is also an expansion of my spirit into a larger room. Think of these short writings as something to ponder or meditate on, a dojo of the mind. If we are to make it through these times we need to become something more as humans. We need to first get a vision of what that might be and then practice it as diligently as Shaolin monks. The more people that do this, the easier it will become. We have to rescue ourselves from the abyss. How willing are you to learn how?